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Nigeria's leading story blog. GTB, FUTO, vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, thousand Naira, MTN recharge card, relocated to Eko (Lagos), We went to Silverbird Cinema.

True Life Story

I was a young Engineering Graduate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), in Imo state when I relocated to Eko (Lagos). I grew up in Owerri too, so my views at the time were somewhat in direct disagreement with Lagos rules, relationship wise. Having arrived in Lagos to take up a job at GTB (Guaranty Trust Bank), I was keen to start a relationship. My girlfriend back in university got married towards graduation, so I was back in the dating world, searching. What better place to start than in Lagos?

Having landed a job with GTB, I had a few weeks before my training commenced, so I began to browse around. I knew that life as banker was going to be brutally grueling, so I was keen to find the right girl before I started my new job. One afternoon, I went to see a cousin who operated a business center in Ikoyi. The building was always bustling with life. In one of the offices in the building I met a girl by the name Monica. She was young; right around my age, slender, tall and well built. You would think she was custom-made for the red carpet. Everything about Monica smacked of stardom. She picked her steps with majestic aptitude, leaving your mouth hanging hopelessly wide open as she sauntered glamorously by.

I was quick to chat her up. The next day, I was back in her office, looking for an opportunity to ask her out on a date. “So, would you happen to have half an hour to grab a snack or two with me after work?” I asked. She peered at her watch as though she had a million appointments to catch after work. Then, she glanced at the ceiling suggesting that she was in deep thought as she ruminated over her seemingly packed schedule. Then, she answered me lackadaisically; “Well, I don’t have more than half an hour.” “That is fine by me. It won’t be any longer,” I replied eagerly, willing to say anything to get her to go out with me.

We went to a Tantalizer’s just around the corner. Thirty minutes swelled into hours as we sat by the window and chatted while we devoured chicken and rice. Two days later, I was back at it again and she was a willing participant. Soon, I was riding on the bus with her after work to Bar Beach. We would rent one of those thatched huts on the beach while we massacred suya as we gazed at ships coming into Lagos from the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

“So are you going to start dating one of your banker colleagues and forget me when you start work next week,” Monica asked.
“Of course not,” I answered bullishly, convinced that I had found what I had been looking for.
“Yes, I promise,” I replied ebulliently.

I reached out and grabbed her soft and smooth hand and clutched it in mine with the urgency of a drowning man desperately seeking help. I rubbed her hand and placed her right palm on my face. She slowly rubbed my face and then my neck, forcing my eyes to shut effortlessly under the pleasurable spell of her soothing touch.

Work was busy as I had expected, nonetheless, I made time to see Monica every weekend. We went to Silverbird Cinema every other week. Soon, my schedule became tighter by the day and I saw less and less of Monica. Despite that, I made sure to spend one quality weekend with her every month and she would stop by the office every now and again to have lunch with me; and of course, make sure I was not seeing any other girl at work (which I was not).

“Honey, I took three days off to rest,” I announced to Monica one Thursday evening as I readied myself to board the staff bus for the ride home. “I can’t wait to spend the entire Friday through Tuesday with you,” I added exuberantly.
“I am not sure I can see you,” she replied with an air of nonchalance I had never seen in her before.
“How do you mean?”
“I need ten thousand Naira from you this weekend. If you don’t have it, don’t even bother to come over,” she said authoritatively. I moved the phone away from my ear, stared at it and then placed it back. Perhaps I had caught a terrible ear infection and I did not know of it yet. Or, I might be hearing from folks in the spirit world who spewed shocking instructions at me.

“What did you say?” I asked. Ten thousand Naira was a hefty chunk of my beginner’s salary at the time and I had not even received it yet. Besides, I had my parents to cater for. After all the sacrifice they had made for me in life, I was eager to show my gratitude to them first before anything or anyone else. Having said that, what really sent chills through my spine was the fact that Monica had stated categorically that if I did not offer her the money by the weekend, I should not bother to come around. How could someone change instantly from a lovely sweet girl to some indescribably mean girl with no emotions? I wondered.

“You heard me right,” Monica answered, maintaining her arrogant stance. Wow! I thought, as I sought to process what I had just heard. When I got home, I rang her again thinking she had been joking.

“You should stop calling me, Ejibe,” she said. “Just bring the money over by weekend and we can hang out afterwards,” she added matter-of-factly. I was not ready to take her rubbish anymore, so I hung up on her. By Saturday she texted to ask if I was coming with the money. I ignored her completely. Needless to say that she was not quite the love I was looking for. My first Lagos love kicked the bucket before it got off the ground.

Months later, I was at a kiosk on my street to buy an MTN recharge card. I had been there several times, so I knew the girl that ran the shop fairly well enough. On this day, there was another girl with her and they both looked very much alike.
“Are you sisters?” I asked
“Yes,” answered the girl I had seen at the kiosk several times in the past.
“I think I know you from university,” he sister said.

I glanced at her but nothing jumped back at me. I drew complete blank.
“You studied mechanical engineering at FUTO, right?” She asked.
“Yes, you are right.”
“My name is Rita. I studied chemical engineering at FUTO too. I recall you were the faculty president back in school.”
“You are right again,” I said.

Small world, isn’t it? I had never seen that girl before but she almost knew my blood group, my genotype and my preferred size of garri balls. She reeled of my former girlfriend’s’ name and the names of my close friends. Soon, we were chatting over the phone. For some reason, I was not sure yet as to whether to ask her out or not. She was clearly up for it. I saw the glaring signals, so I studied the terrain carefully. Soon, she would call me up at work to ask if I had eaten lunch.

“I wish I could make something for you to eat dear,” she’d say. “Do you want to come over after work?”
“I will be back late,” I replied, which was true.

I worked very late at this point. Then she began to send me suggestive text messages. I negotiated around them carefully. I was somewhat taken aback by her extreme ‘forwardness’. I guess I can say that I like to take the initiative when it comes to relationships. I sure like the chase, you know, the art of taking time to woo a woman; to discover her – her likes and dislikes and the anxiety of waiting to find out if she is going to say yes or no. Of course I like it when a girl flashes the green light at me, but that has to be executed with a healthy dose of subtlety. Subtlety did not exist in Rita’s dictionary. She was honking, blaring and shining her green light like a full moon glowing in broad daylight! I could have been blinded by her glaring green light.

Then, all of a sudden, she vanished - I didn’t see her around for weeks. When I asked her sister, she told me that Rita had just visited a relative in Abuja. Then, one day she texted to say that she was job-haunting in Abuja, so I wished her well. A few days later she rang me up.

“Don’t you want to see me?” She asked.
“It would be nice to see you,” I answered diplomatically.
“It would be nice or you want to see me?”
“They are the same thing, aren’t they?”
“No, they are not, Ejibe.”
“I did not study English, you know,” I countered defensively, yet carefully.
“I have heard you speak over and over again. I am certain that you know they are not the same.”
“I’d love to see you,” I said to end the argument.
“Then, let’s make that happen,” she replied with glowing exuberance.
“So, you are returning to Lagos soon?” I asked.
“No, but I can be in Lagos if you want me that badly. You can book a return flight for me and a hotel room. I will fly into town and spend the weekend with you and then return to Abuja afterwards. I don’t have to see my family,” she explained.

She had worked out the details to the letter. I could not help but wonder why I ran into these kinds of girls since arriving in Lagos.
“Let me think that through,” I answered. I was an avid student politician in university, so I played my ‘pause and wait indefinitely’ card. It was a diplomatic no!
“Think fast honey,” she urged me.
“I will,” I lied through my teeth.

Weeks dragged by and we did not talk about her proposal. I was not keen on her any longer after that chat. Then, I found out that she was living with her fiancé who resided in Abuja. I was shocked to the marrow that she was willing to sneak into Lagos to spend a weekend in a hotel with me and then back to him in Abuja afterwards. No wonder she did not want her family to see her.

When she realized that I was not going to make that happen she switched to a new tactic.
“I need twenty thousand Naira now,” Rita said to me over the phone one afternoon. I was slaving away at the office and she called to place a hefty demand on me, out of the blues. I flickered quickly through my beleaguered brain for an answer.

“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m in front of your branch in Maitama,” she replied.

Would you believe that? She had made her way to the Maitama branch of GTB before placing a call to me. You’d be right to say that she had enormous faith. She was absolutely sure that I was going to pay the fine she had allotted to me for the crime of getting to know her.

“Give me two minutes. I will call you back,” I assured her.

I went back to work, pecking away at the keyboard with furious speed. After five minutes, I rang her up.
“I have completed the transfer. Walk into the banking hall and speak to any of the tellers. Just tell them that you have a transfer to pick up. They will ask you for the name of the sender; just give them my name, and your name as the recipient. The PIN code is 111569034. Let me know when you have collected it,” I explained.
“Thank you honey,” she exclaimed elatedly.

The sound of that ‘honey’ stung my ear like an irate bee taking out its anger on my poor ears.

“I want to kiss you like crazy now!” She added in a lame and annoying effort to massage my ego, as she readied her pocket to siphon twenty thousand Naira away from me.
“Thanks. Talk to you later,” I replied in a somewhat rusty voice.

My palms danced and shook chaotically as I tried to take hold of my emotions and focus on my assignment for the day. I turned off my phone and tried the best I could to get back to work…sort of! While she was walking into the banking hall, I was online on the Bank’s intranet chatting with a colleague who was based at the Maitama branch.

“Where is this girl from? She is yelling at the teller, insisting that someone had sent her the money,” my colleague, Usman typed and sent to me.
“I hope she doesn’t burn down the building,” I replied.
“She is threatening to have the teller fired, claiming that her boyfriend is a top official in the bank.”
“Wow! This is serious,” I replied. I had been elevated at the office and I did not even know it.
“Now the head of operations is talking to her, but she wouldn’t even listen. She is sure that there is a transfer for her sitting on our computer,” Usman said.

A short while later, Usman informed me that Rita had been thrown out of the premises by bank security. She cursed at every one who cared to listen as she pressed furiously on her phone keypad in a frantic attempt to reach her boyfriend who was highly placed in the bank – me. A part of me wanted to turn on my phone and tell her to go back home to her fiancĂ©, but I resisted the urge. When I reached home at night, I had received at least twenty five text messages calling me all sorts of names. The next morning, when a girl smiled at me on the bus, I was sure to look in the opposite direction while making sure I was wearing a scarily ugly frown on my face. I was so sure she was going to ask me for fifty thousand Naira if I had smiled back at her. Anyway, years later, I am still learning the ways of Lagos and the rules that apply here!

The above story was penned and sent in by Patrick Ejibe (actual name withheld) and was edited by editorial team. Patrick Ejibe lives and works in Lagos; a city he is still trying to master, with regard to the subject of relationship.

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Nigeria's leading story blog. GTB, FUTO, vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, thousand Naira, MTN recharge card, relocated to Eko (Lagos), We went to Silverbird Cinema. An African Literary Blog
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